Petit Treason


Arsenic could be mistaken for

flour in the bread, sugar dissolved

at the bottom of a cup. A little

laudanum for the baby who cries

and cries, and always grows


into the same as them— no matter

the song she sings or how

many nights she nurses him

to sleep. A sprinkling of strychnine

in the beans, a teaspoon


of bedbug poison as practice.

What a woman could do alone

in the kitchen when no one was

looking. A quick risk, sleight

of hand. But she’d planned this


for months. Years really. Since

that first time she knew her worth

in this world. Both nothing and

so much at once. Her chin too

defiant, her hand trembling


when she ladled the clear gravy

soup she worked at day and night.

Skimming the fat, seasoning it

just so. Or before that— when

she couldn’t remember because


she knew to bury it without ever

being told. Like she knew the guns

would always be locked up, a fire

could be snuffed out in time.

The oven always too damned hot


for anyone but her and the Lord.

And the Lord knew full well

why she had to. Else He wouldn’t

have made the powder so white

or her broth taste so good.


Danielle DeTiberus teaches creative writing at the Charleston School of the Arts. In 2016, she received a poetry fellowship from the South Carolina Academy of Authors. Her work has appeared in Best American Poetry 2015, Arts & Letters, The Missouri Review, Rattle, River Styx, Spoon River Poetry Review and elsewhere. She currently serves as the Program Chair for the Poetry Society of South Carolina, bringing nationally renowned poets to Charleston for readings and seminars. More of her work can be found at